The years of raising young children can be the toughest on a marriage, but here’s an inspiring story that might remind you you can make it through!
I was talking to a friend the other day about this phase of parenting.
You know… diapers, tantrums, timeouts, preschool, carseats, cutting up their food. Constantly instructing. Constantly correcting. Constantly watching.
During the baby years, the needs are relentless.
She recounted a story about her friend.
Her friend lives in New Jersey, where there’s a beautiful beach that has sand and also an area where there are huge boulders that line the coast. If you can get to the rocks, the view is breathtaking.
Year after year, this couple, in the trenches of the baby years, would bring their young kids to the beach. They’d park the car, and someone would be whining. Someone else would be hungry or need a diaper change. It was all they could do to hoist the ice chest and beach bags out of the car, walk the kids to the sand, and sit for a few minutes of peace before someone else would need something.
As they handed out snacks and searched for the arm floaties and sunscreened little bodies, the couple would gaze at the rocks. And see the people who were relaxing and enjoying that beautiful view. The view that requires steady footwork and climbing, and minimal baggage. And all of the things that are impossible with young kids.
Someday we’ll be there, they’d think, as they plucked another peanut butter and jelly sandwich out of the sand and wiped a runny nose.
Someday, we’ll make it to the rocks.
But for now, the sand was the safest. And they needed to be near the bathroom because someone was always potty-training.
As the years went on, the kids got a little older. There were no more diapers, and the family no longer needed to be close to the bathroom. They’d move a little farther down the beach, and sit on the sand.
Again, they’d gaze at the rocks and see whatever lucky folks had been able to enjoy them that day. Sometimes, there were young couples, fresh in love, sitting closely and quietly, spilling their secrets. Other times, there were best friends, sharing a glass of wine together and listening to the waves crash.
Someday, we’ll make it to the rocks.
When the kids were teenagers, the family continued to come to the beach. The couple could let go a little more, but even then, the rocks were too treacherous to allow their young teens to scale.
And then, one day, the couple was back at the beach.
And it was just them.
The kids were in high school, and that particular day, they wanted to hang with their friends instead of coming to the family beach spot.
And so, the couple got out of their car.
There were no ice chests, no floaties, no diapers.
All they had to carry was one towel.
And together, they walked down to the very end of the beach. They scaled those rocks, laid out their towel and admired the view.
We made it.
All those years of doubting this day would ever come, they had made it to the rocks.
After years of the relentless needs. Years of being interrupted every 30 seconds with another request for a snack, a hug, a toy. Years of no time for their marriage. Years of difficult conversations, over toddler discipline and school choices. Years of arguments that are never fully resolved because someone’s crying or something breaks or someone’s hungry. Years of being so tired at the end of the day that they couldn’t even speak, and had only enough energy to lay down in bed together, turn on the TV and drift off to sleep.
The baby years had taken so much out of them.
But they made it through.
To a place where the view is perfect.
And no one is dropping peanut butter and jelly in the sand.
We made it to the rocks.
This picture was taken on our 14th wedding anniversary. I love it, because it so perfectly describes our life right now: trying to maintain focus on our marriage, despite lots of delightful kid craziness happening all around us. This phase is hard, but also so very fun. And, on the tough days, I try to remind myself: this is a season. Seasons change.
Are you in this phase of parenting? Head over to the Facebook page, and share your comments!